A PASSION FOR COLLECTING
Redlands Fortnightly Club
Thursday, November 29, 2012
At the Mission Inn Foundation and Museum the volunteers, docents, and staff strive to understand Frank Augustus Miller’s passion for collecting. The Mission Inn was a showcase, a curiosity cabinet reflecting his passion and propensity for collecting. Although he lacked the financial resources of William Randolph Hearst or Mission Inn investor Henry Huntington, Miller created a hotel like none other. When the hotel opened in 1903, the Master of the Inn was not looking to the future, but to the past. Architectural elements copied directly from San Gabriel, Monterey, Pala, San Luis Rey, and Carmel reinforced the mission ideal. No wonder to this day some visitors are convinced the Inn was one of the original California missions.
Miller created his vision with saints and angel statuary, stained glass, Madonna and Child Della Robbias, California mission and rancho paintings, bells of all sizes and descriptions, Native American basketry, decorative tiles featuring coats of arms, Asian carved wood panels, suits of armor, and an assortment of other objects collected from five of the six continents. These items filled the guest rooms, hallways, galleries, and a significant portion of the basement. Miller’s collection rivaled many collections of the day.
Several years ago citizens of Redlands upon entering the city treasurer’s office encountered an overwhelming display of Bennie Babies. For entrepreneur Ty Warner, he couldn’t have been happier. City employees and millions of others obsessed over Warner’s polyester-filled animals. In the years since interest in the creatures remains high. A recent search on EBay revealed roughly 76,000 of the fluffy creations seeking new owners.
Why Bennie Babies or why, California mission paintings? For that matter, why postage stamps, duck decoys, Olympic pins, Picassos, shot glasses or snow globes? There appears no end to the things people collect, including telephones, telescopes, and televisions; beer cans, whiskey bottles, corkscrews, fine wine, swizzle sticks, and steins; license plates, tractors, Hot wheels, Lalique hood ornaments, pedal cars, motorcycles, steam engines, and automobiles; paper weights, pencils, inkwells, pencil sharpeners, letter openers, globes, typewriters, candle snuffers, and fountain pens; cookie cutters, cream pitchers, teapots, coffee mugs, Spode, cake plates, pewter, Depression glass, red glass, cut crystal, wine glasses, toothpick holders, Bauer and Fiesta Ware, citrus reamers, milk bottle caps, kitchen tools, salt and pepper shakers, and fine china; minerals, sea shells, gems, fossils, insects, butterflies, bird eggs, and crystals; Beatle souvenirs, record albums, movie posters, guitars, Hummel’s, Disney figurines, Coca Cola signage, Avon bottles, and Barbie Dolls; Ansel Adams, Edward Weston, and Dorothea Lange fine art prints; cameras, stereo scopes, gramophones, radios, television sets, and music boxes; sewing machines, thimbles, purses, quilts, shoes, and hat pins; model ships, airplanes, trains, and space travel mementos; comic books, 1st editions, autographs, maps, celebrity photographs, and cartoon cells; marbles, lunch boxes, clowns and Santa’s, Boy Scout patches, coins, McDonald’s Happy Meal treasures, windup toys, piggy banks, baseball cards, cereal box prizes, toy soldiers, teddy bears, bobble heads, and trolls; snuff bottles, pocket watches, cigarette lighters, ash trays, shoe horns, walking sticks, cigar boxes, razors, and pocket knives; sculpture, illustration art, and watercolors, American art, pop art, modern art, folk art, Art Deco and Art Nouveau, Impressionism, Abstract, Realism, Cubism, and Plein Air; Rococo Revival, Eastlake, Arts and Crafts, Queen Anne, Shaker, Federal, French Provincial, Swedish or Danish Modern, Georgian, Chippendale, Victorian, and Colonial American furniture; hammers, carpentry planes, saws, padlocks, and keys, pistols, powder horns, Brown Bess muskets, fishing gear, and swords; and t-shirts, pendants, refrigerator magnets, baseball caps, bookmarks, candles, spoons, key rings, and playing cards.
Associations of collectors host annual conventions, workshops, and publish magazines. There are websites and blogs, journals, and books devoted to collecting. Terms created for our daily lexicon define specialties within collecting.
The public’s interest in collecting has grown over the last twenty years due in part to television and the Internet. Since 1997, viewers of Antiques Roadshow find themselves (ourselves) glued to the television, making the PBS program the network’s most watched. People travel hundreds of miles to stand in line with great hope to learn the value of the items they haul from home and, the opportunity to meet the celebrity appraisers representing the elite auction houses, including Sotheby’s and Bonhams and Butterfields. Appraisers with refined accents of the English upper class bring to mind the 1977 origins of the British imported program. Furniture appraisers Leslie and Leigh Keno are fan favorites. The twin’s passion for antiques began in the farm fields of their family home in upstate New York; the boys captivated by wrought iron hinges and earthen crocks. Wes Cowan, the former Ohio State University professor with a doctorate in anthropology, parlayed his interest in antiques into a multi-million dollar auction house. We witness the unfolding drama and suspense as the owners face the appraisers. Is their treasured heirloom a fake; the family legend filled with contradictions; did overzealous polishing destroy the patina on a Tiffany lamp base; or is the painting purchased at a church rummage sale for a couple of dollars’ worth thousands? We hear “Wow, I can’t believe that; Oh, my gosh, awesome, my mother would have been so happy, I had no idea.” The public cannot get enough of artifact related programming. History Detectives, American Pickers, Pawn Stars, Storage Wars, and Market Warriors are part of the ever-expanding lineup of shows devoted to collecting and evaluating objects.
Online auctions create new opportunities. Before EBay, those interested in postcards upon discovering a stash in an antiques mall, grabbed a chair, if available, to rifle through the cards searching for the one or two missing from their collection. Hopefully the cards indexed by theme or state. For the historian, it is the cancelled postcards with written communication squeezed on the back we value most. A search on EBay for Mission Inn postcards reveals 500 to 600 cards with starting prices of fifty cents to $20. From a PC, iPad or tablet one leisurely searches auction sites while avoiding paper cuts and sore backs. Internet bidding is available throughout the auction industry, whether Christies, John Moran, Heritage Auctions, or EBay.
Collecting was once limited to the wealthy. Europeans, including the royals, filled their curiosity cabinets with shells, minerals, ancient coins, antiquities, botanical specimens, insects, and coral among other stuff for their private collections. Catherine the Great purchased not just one or two paintings, but entire collections of Raphaels, Reubens, Rembrandts, and van Dycks. Out of necessity the Empress of Russia added to her palaces to accommodate the expanded holdings. Hans Sloane, Francis Bacon, and others travelled, in part, to advanced man’s knowledge of the world. The collected materials created the motivation for scientific classification and nomenclature. Vast curiosity cabinets evolved into rooms and entire structures housing thousands of objects. Many of these private collections were set free from a cloistered existence to become the foundation for the worlds’ great institutions. Oxford’s Ashmolean and the British Museum owe their existence, in part, to these early collectors; the former Elias Ashmole and the latter, Hans Sloane.
The curiosity cabinet exhibit style endures as an interpretive tool. The Mütter Museum established in 1858 by the College of Physicians of Philadelphia exhibits 19th century medical equipment and anatomical specimens in a curiosity cabinet environment. Helen Pardee, wife of California’s 21st governor, packed her family’s Oakland home with an enormous collection and led guided tours of her private museum capped off with a cup of tea. This California State Historic Landmark has a collection of 70,000 objects, a portion on display in their original cabinet setting.
In the United States we look to the multi-talented Charles Wilson Peale, the gifted portrait artist of our founding fathers. He amassed a collection of over 100,000 objects which he displayed in the Philadelphia museum he established in the 1780s. The excavation of a mastodon in upstate New York and the subsequent mounting of the prehistoric animal attracted hundreds to Peale’s museum. This could be considered country’s first blockbuster exhibit, akin to the 1970s exhibits produced by the Metropolitan Museum of Art under the direction of late Thomas Hoving.
Years before P.T. Barnum, Dime Museums, and later, Robert Ripley and his Odditoriums, the bizarre or as least the unusual were collected and placed on exhibit. There were religious relics, including the Crown of Thorns and the nails and splinters from the cross on Calvary. Charles F. Gunther, a wealthy candy manufacture who amassed a substantial collection of Lincoln and Civil War materials, purportedly acquired the skin of the serpent that tempted Eve.
At the end of the 19th and early 20th centuries, many of our nation’s foremost art collections were in their formative stages. Capitalists Henry Clay Frick, J. P. Morgan, Henry Huntington and his wife, Anabella, and others, had the financial means and drive to establish great collections. William Randolph Hearst was legendary for paying top dollar for antiquities housed in vast warehouses, much of it he would never lay eyes on.
The wealthy capitalists relied on advisors in their quest to assemble fine art collections. The most prominent and certainly the most influential advisor was the Yorkshire-born Joseph Duveen. His family operated galleries in London, Paris, and New York City. The Huntington’s were Duveen clients. In 1921 he sold the couple Gainsborough’s Blue Boy, just one of many acquisitions they purchased from him. The art dealer also played collector against collector, including Andrew Mellon and “Five and Dime” magnate Samuel Kress prior to the establishment of the National Gallery of Art. The two men donated significant works for the new museum. Duveen selected architect John Russell Pope to design the marble façade structure on the mall in Washington, D.C.
War has led to horrendous examples of greed and theft of fine art, scars on the cultural heritage landscape. In the 1930s museums, art galleries, and private collectors in Holland, Belgium, Great Britain, and France, along with other areas, scrambled to find places to stash their fine art from Hitler, Göring, and the German armies. Art was packed and shipped from the cities to outlying regions or in some cases, to Great Britain and the United States for safe keeping. Others forced to sell their art at “bargain prices,” turned to art dealers, including Duveen. The dealer also took advantage of the Führer’s tastes in fine art to acquire paintings from Germany’s museums no longer favored by the Third Reich. Napoleon’s craving for fine art was pale in comparison to Germany’s appetite. This infamous episode continues to impact museums. There is an ongoing effort to locate and repatriate artwork to the rightful owners. Included in most museum collection policies is a document titled Unlawful Appropriation of Objects During the Nazi Era issued by the American Alliance of Museums (formerly, the American Association of Museums). The several page document was adopted to ensure museums do not acquire or have in their collections items stolen by the Nazi’s.
Collecting is not always a simple matter of discovery and the quest to add to our knowledge. The infamous pot hunters raiding Native American sites cared little for the environment in which they found their plunder. Years before Howard Carter stepped into the Valley of the Kings, grave robbers looted tombs of tools, furniture, and implements buried with the royals to serve them in their afterlife.
The history of museums is littered with dubious acquisitions. Objects with questionable provenance or those spirited out of their native lands by deceitful antiquities’ dealers were known to end up in museums. Countries sue to reclaim objects considered national treasures. The British Museum and the legacy of Joseph Duveen remain part of an ongoing contentious dispute. The Elgin Marbles removed from the Parthenon and adjoining sites of the Acropolis in the early 1800s remain in the British Museum collections on display in the gallery funded by Duveen and designed by architect J. R. Pope.
There is no evidence Frank Miller used Joseph Duveen to acquire items for the hotel. Perhaps the innkeeper’s pockets were not deep enough. It is not surprising that Miller was not a Duveen client. At one point, the art dealer said of Samuel Kress, he “. . . isn’t ready to be a customer of mine; he’s got to make a few more mistakes.” In the 1880s Miller made friends with Wilson Crewdson, a Cambridge University graduate well-versed in Asian art and material culture. We believe Crewdson had a profound impact on Miller’s world view and his deep affection and appreciation for the Japanese people. This impact is seen in the Asian inspired architecture incorporated into the Mission Inn and the artifacts collected by Miller. Around 1914 Miller hired Francis Borton as curator. The USC graduate and former missionary to Mexico authored the Handbook of the Mission Inn, a guide to the hotel and collections. Borton was also the buyer for the Inn’s Cloister Art Shop. Miller travelled twice to Europe. On one trip he purchased $40,000 worth of items in Spain, Great Britain, and other parts of Europe. Miller turned to a Mrs. E. W. Crane for the purchase and shipment of a gold leaf retablo or altar screen from a family’s private chapel in Mexico. The Inn’s St. Francis Chapel completed in 1931 was created to hold the retablo and the Louis Comfort Tiffany windows formerly in the Stanford White designed Madison Square Presbyterian Church.
The Panama Pacific International Exposition and the Panama-California Exposition had a positive financial impact on the Mission Inn. Business was up, as viewers travelling between San Francisco and San Diego stopped in Riverside. When the San Francisco exposition closed in December 1915, Miller went shopping. The two cannon resting on restored gun carriages near the hotel’s main entrance formerly guarded the entrance to the Philippine building. Other items purchased included several bells and the fourteen piece Pontifical Court. The life-size wax, wood and paper figures representing Pope Pius X and his court were a major attraction for decades.
Miller also acquired artwork from the estate of Piedmont entrepreneur Frank Havens. Arminian born artist Hovsep Pushman, who lived at the Inn with his wife and sons from 1916 to 1919, assisted Miller with acquisitions from the estate. The paintings included several Russian pieces originally shown at the St. Louis Exposition in 1904 and an enormous 7’ x 10’ painting titled “California Alps” by the Scottish-born and friend of John Muir, William Keith. Keith’s work was first displayed in the hotel’s Spanish Art Gallery designed by Pasadena architect Myron Hunt. For years Keith’s painting has hung in the hotel lobby on the ground floor. The painting would have been the perfect fit for the hotel Miller had planned to build in Yosemite.
Shortly before Miller, his wife Marion, and other family members returned from a seven month journey to Asia, the October 11, 1925 Sunday morning edition of the Los Angeles Times featured an article titled “Riverside Inn Is Treasure House of Ancient Art.” Years before the establishment of the Norton Simon, LACMA and the Getty’s villa, the reporter wrote,
Why take an expensive trip around the world when the cream of historic
and artistic Europe, Asia and Africa is centered in one building in Southern
California? . . . Southern California may save itself the trouble and expense
of building a museum or collecting its art treasures so long as the Mission Inn
is in reach of Los Angeles. No paid board of trustees nor any high-priced
collectors of any museum in America could match the genius of Frank Miller,
to whom the former Glenwood Tavern stands as monument, not only in its
architecture and collection of art/curios, but in its living atmosphere, which
breathes the man’s artistic soul.
Like those early collectors, Miller kept adding spaces to display his acquisitions. No area within the hotel evoked more mystery in 1925 or even today than below the Cloister Music Room on the east side of the hotel. Rooms and spaces named the Refectorio, Kiva, Rambla, and Sala de los Arcos were crowded with objects. Guided tours through the space captured the imagination of hotel guests and visitors.
Within this basement was a walkway christened the El Camino Real. Miller emulated the efforts begun in 1906 by Mrs. A.C.S. Forbes who had bells installed along the coastal highway from San Diego to San Francisco. In the arched concrete basement highway hung thirty-eight California mission paintings by artist Henry Chapman Ford. It was unusual for oil paintings to be under glass, but in the end, a life saver from tourists’ hands in the damp, musty environment. Among the surviving thirty-six paintings is one titled “San Bernardino Siena” depicting the ruins of the San Gabriel Mission outpost.
Miller was not alone in developing his personal El Camino Real. Years later the Orange County amusement park created by San Bernardino native and berry farmer Walter Knott featured an El Camino Real pathway complete with twenty-one miniature mission models. The models were similar to the replicas created by generations of California’s 4th graders or the models currently on display in the children’s wing of this library, including one with graham cracker walls, Wheat Chex roof tiles, and an ice cream cone tower.
Miller was not alone in his passion for collecting. As a college student I worked as a guide at the National Historic Landmark Fort Ticonderoga on banks of Lake Champlain in upstate New York. It was an extraordinary time as our country prepared for the nation’s Bicentennial. Six days a week I wore the uniform of a Pennsylvania foot soldier, complete with knee britches, great coat, tri-corn, and shoulder length hair in a queue. The guide staff shared with the visiting public the Fort’s history and the Pell family legacy, including Stephen H. P. Pell, who labored years to restore the stone fortress purchased in 1826 by his grandfather, William Ferris Pell. Stephen amassed an extraordinary collection documenting the French and Indian and the Revolutionary Wars. Firearms, powder horns, swords, canteens, rope tension drums, clothing, fine art, books, archival materials, and medical related objects, including a small lead musket ball with teeth marks imbedded in the soft metal. Presumably, a soldier was encouraged by an army surgeon to bite down on the ball in an effort to control pain. Pell’s collection also included a substantial assortment of artillery. Eighteenth century military commanders would have coveted the fort’s collection of mortars, cannon, and howitzers of Spanish, French, English, and American origin; considered “the largest collection of its type in the western Hemisphere.” The provenance of three of the pieces is tied directly to the Fort.
On loan to Fort Ti is a sword once owned by Green Mountain Boys’ commander Ethan Allen. The first time I recall seeing the weapon was at the wedding of Stephen Pell’s great-granddaughter to a fellow guide; the sword used to cut the wedding cake. On May 10, 1975 at 3 a.m. several thousand of us packed into the Fort’s courtyard. We witnessed the sword’s 6’ 4” owner, Dr. John Lattimer, in his role as Ethan Allen with blade in hand, commanding direct decedents of Benedict Arnold and eighty-three Green Mountain Boys. They reenacted the capture of the British-held fort in celebration of the 200th anniversary of the storied event, the same event recounted by actor Daniel Day Lewis in the movie, Lincoln. At the time of the reenactment, Lattimer was chair of the Department of Urology and a professor at the College of Physicians and Surgeons at his alma mater, Columbia University. The Michigan-born physician earned three degrees at the Ivy League school while setting records in track and field. As an US Army medical officer during WWII, Lattimer provided medical care to American soldiers on Omaha Beach, treated Nuremberg war trial prisoners, wrote a book in which he theorized Hitler suffered from severe Parkinson’s disease, and was a leading authority on President Kennedy’s assassination.
The doctor was an enthusiastic collector with diverse interests and, some might say, captivated by the macabre. In his collection was the glass capsule that once held Hermann Göring’s lethal dose of cyanide. Following Lattimer’s death in 2007, his daughter, Evan, found herself curator of her father’s estimated 3000 object collection. She wrote the following,
Collecting is not the same as accumulating. It is not investing; buying and
selling historic items as commodities. Collecting is driven by passion.
Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War also captivated Lattimer. The doctor’s collections reflected this passion. In November 2008, an auction was held in Gettysburg at which 269 lots of Lattimer’s Lincoln/Civil War materials were offered for sale. In the forward to the auction catalog, Evan Lattimer reflected,
It’s hard to imagine that the relics can possibly find another resting place in
which they will be as well served and as valued as the home they had with
Dr. Lattimer, but perhaps some equally impassioned students of history
will find even greater fulfillment in their stewardship. We can only be
the caretakers of our relics for a lifetime, then it is someone else’s turn.
We know Evan’s desire for her father’s collection was fulfilled, at least in part. Several objects belonging to the doctor are now in the Lincoln Memorial Shrine collections established by another with a deep respect and passion for Lincoln and the Civil War.
Collecting Native American basketry was common in southern California at the turn-of-the 20th century. Owners proudly displayed their acquisitions. Among the glass plate negatives of Redlands photographer Elias Foster Everitt are images of at least one local basket collection. The Smiley twins had an extensive collection, now part of this library’s holdings. In Riverside, Frank Miller and Nabisco executive Cornelius Rumsey also had significant collections. Rumsey’s wife donated the couple’s holdings to the City of Riverside in 1924 as the Cornelius Earle Rumsey Indian Museum (later to become Riverside’s Municipal Museum and now, renamed the Riverside Metropolitan Museum). For those in Redlands, the women of the San Manual Indian Reservation, including the talented Dolores Crispin, produced exceptional works of art. In 1925 the baskets sold for $5 apiece. The women’s efforts preserved Serrano culture while supplementing income earned working for the families of Highland’s orange growers. Opportunities to purchase Indian basketry were also available through other sources, including to passengers travelling on the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad. They bought Native American crafts at entrepreneur Fred Harvey’s Indian Arts Building in Albuquerque or at other stops along the southern rail route.
Another local collector of Native American artwork was Cornelia Ann Hill, a widow from Middletown, New York, who arrived in Redlands in the late 1890s. Upon her move to Redlands she hired Los Angeles architects Dennis and Farwell to design her home on the city’s south side. The fantasy chateauesque structure was pure Victorian inside. An unknown photographer captured Mrs. Hill’s collection displayed in her home’s main hall, including a papoose mounted on a back wall. These items were not limited to the Serrano, Cahuilla, or other southern California tribes. At least one basket was Hupa from northern California near the Trinity River. The collection took on greater significance when a scrapbook donated to the Kimberly-Shirk Association by Mrs. Hill’s family contained snapshots from the Hupa reservation. These images appear taken at different times of the year. Did Mrs. Hill reside in northern California for a time near the Hupa people? What inspired her interest in Native Americans? Is it possible Mrs. Hill was an advocate for improving the conditions of the Indians? Her Hudson Valley home was just forty-five miles from the Smiley family’s resort where the Lake Mohonk Indian Conferences were held.
Collections often serve as reminders of places we visit. Pendants, decals, banners, booklets, and other souvenirs easy to pack provoke cherished memories. Affordable refrigerator magnets are physical reminders of camping in the Smokey’s, a visit to a Presidential Library or the thrill of an amusement park rollercoaster. For me, a reader’s card to the British Museum is one of several mementos of a semester spent in England and hours in the museum’s cavernous reading room searching for the British perspective on the outbreak of war in 1775.
Objects that serve as reminders of travel are often personnel and not necessarily a curio purchased in a souvenir shop. In the library of a Riverside family’s home is an assortment of bottles containing two or three tablespoons of sand, dirt, or similar material extracted from the ground; each bottle identified with a paper tag prepared by the owner curator of the private collection. She wrote,
My mother actually started the collection with a bottle of black sand from
Hawaii, and when I was young I loved to look at it. So when I started traveling
I decided to start a collection in earnest. . . It’s been a lot of fun to collect it from
our various trips, and it’s fun to remember when and where we got each sample.
The collection numbers nearly 100 bottles, including sand from the pyramids at Giza preserved in a camel-shaped bottle purchased in Cairo. This eclectic mixture prompts memories of the journeys, young children now adults, and dad’s efforts to secure the earthly treasure: geese attacking on the banks of the Thames and making every effort to avoid “sleeping crocodiles sunning” themselves while on safari in Kenya. Perhaps it is fitting that the granddaughter of former Mission Inn employee E. L. Yeager, who established an earth moving company after returning from World War I and constructed many of southern California’s freeways, roads, and bridges, chose sand to preserve her family’s memories.
Hotel furnishings and other related objects are common remembrances of a particular time, including honeymoons. Towels, flatware, toiletries, and “Do Not Disturb” signs are common hotel acquisitions. Several years ago the Henry Ford Museum recreated a Holiday Inn room, complete with housekeeping’s paper strip across the sanitized toilet and unopened bath soap. These items and more were readily available to the curators and exhibit designers. In 2011, the Mission Inn Foundation established a “Bring It Back Home” campaign and exhibit. Although no towels were displayed, there were examples of flatware, postcards, menus, furniture, textiles, and five bells. An unknown perpetrator appropriated the bells in the 1960s.The former girlfriend returned them, part of the Inn’s bell collection once numbering in excess of 800. Recently, New York City’s Waldorf Astoria began an “amnesty” program seeking items taken from the hotel.
In the collection of the Miami County Historical Society in Peru, Indiana are a series of photo albums compiled by members of the Shirk family, once one of Indiana’s wealthiest families with close ties to Redlands. Included in the albums are photographs from trips to Europe and the Mediterranean. Discovered in one album was a print of a painting described as “Woman Weighing Gold.” Mrs. Milton Shirk, the mother of Elbert Shirk, saw the painting in a German museum. In the library of Kimberly Crest hangs a painting on porcelain in a gesso, wood, and gold leaf frame given to Mary Kimberly Shirk by her mother-in-law, a copy of the same painting seen in Germany.
The arts, music, literature, and painting represent qualities of healing and well-being dating back to Greek and Roman mythology. Centuries later the Works Progress Administration employed artists to paint murals in post offices and other public spaces, including hospitals. In the 1970s the movement to incorporate the arts within hospital settings began to flourish. At Redlands Community Hospital, Executive Director George DeLange and Dr. Kenneth Ghormley turned to the late Marianne Finley to gather up art for display in the hospital in an effort to soften the institutional feel and bring comfort and solace to patients, family, and staff. Mariane’s efforts resulted in an extraordinary collection. Others have followed in her curatorial footsteps, including Jane Davis, Susan Sequeira, Dr. Perry Dyke, and Dr. Allan Griesmer.
The RCH collection in excess of 800 reflects extraordinary talent. Artists represented include Milford Zornes, Worden Bethel, Phil Dyke, Robert Wood, Ben and Mary Rabe, Fred Gowland, Doris Cook, Joanna Mersereau, Chick Curtis, Sheila Hansburger, Brad Fraegre, Don O’Neill, San Diego artist Albert Ennis, and Montana dentist and artist Ken Hansen. There are artists with close ties to Redlands Fortnightly represented, including Jean Cranmer, Janet Edwards, Doug Bowman, Jim Fallows, and George Riday. Marianne continued her efforts at her second home in Idaho. Sandpoint’s Bonner General Hospital has a program titled “Art for the Soul” established by Marianne in 2000, now with over 500 paintings in the collection.
A review of Fortnightly members collecting interests reveals fascinating and diverse passions. The brilliant S. Stillman Berry, who joined Fortnightly a year after he received his Ph.D. from Stanford, included among his interests mollusks, cephalopods, bookplates, a Darwinian library, and specimens of wood carved and shaped by beavers. The mollusks are now at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, the cephalopods in the Smithsonian. The late Stan Kormacher, M.D. cared for our wellbeing. His talents and passions extended far beyond the practice of medicine. Tiffany glass, gemstones, fountain pens, and ocarinas captivated his interest, as did his classical clarinet virtuosity.
Evan Lattimer noted collecting is driven by passion. J. Paul Getty expressed the following,
Once an individual launches out as a collector, he will, in nine out of ten
cases, become fascinated and enthralled. Even the most battered fragment
of a statue, a headless terra-cotta figurine, or a racked and dented bronze
object will come alive, as fresh and as beautiful as the day when it was
completed by its creator centuries ago.
What was it about the first of one item inspiring an individual in their pursuit to create a collection? For me, the inspiration was the gift one Christmas of a drum ornament made of Styrofoam, felt, and velvet ribbon. As in the case of most collectors, when someone learns of your collecting habits, you become the recipient of more and more. Although I started out curating the ornaments as if they were in a museum, the task became too work related. The collection now numbers over 200. I continue in my quest for an Energizer Bunny ornament.
Obsession and even, addiction has led to the creation of some of greatest, largest, and the most valuable collections. There are those who view artworks as a commodity. Others sequester their acquisitions as if a miser hording a stash of gold. The art world is still reeling from the unsolved theft of thirteen works in March 1990 from Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. We can only hope that these items are under the proper care.
Blom, Philipp. To Have and to Hold: An Intimate History of Collectors and Collecting.
Woodstock & New York, The Overlook Press, 2003.
Cross, Michael. Rogues’ Gallery: The Secret History of the Moguls and Money Gallery That Made the Metropolitan Museum. New York, Broadway Books, 2009.
Freund, Thatcher. Objects of Desire: The Lives of Antiques and Those Who Pursue Them. New York, Pantheon Book, 1993.
Getty, J. Paul. The Joys of Collecting. Los Angeles, J. Paul Getty Museum, 2011.
Heritage Auctions. Heritage Historical Americana Auction #6014 the Dr. John K. Lattimer Collection of Lincolniana Dallas, Heritage Auctions, Inc., 2008.
Keno, Leigh and Leslie Keno. Hidden Treasures: Searching for Masterpieces of
American Furniture. New York, Warner Books, 2000.
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American Dream. Boulder, Colorado, University Press of Colorado, 2012.
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Riverside, A Field Report Submitted to the Department of History in Candidacy for the Degree of Master of Arts, University of California, 1979.
“Hovesp Pushman (1877 – 1966): The Armenian Spirit” http://www.tfaoi.com/newsm1/n1m664.htm
L. J. VandenBergh. “Riverside Inn Is Treasure House of Ancient Art.” Los Angeles Sunday Times 11 October 1925, Part III.
“A Letter from Evan Lattimer. “ Heritage Historical Americana Auction #6014 the Dr. John K. Lattimer Collection of Lincolniana (Dallas: Heritage Auctions, Inc., November 1, 2008), 5.
Steven Timothy Spiller, San Manual Indian Reservation – An Examination of Its History (Riverside: A Field Report Submitted to the Department of History in Candidacy for the Degree of Master of Arts, University of California, 1979), p. 50.
Kathy Allivie, e-mail message to author, October 1, 2012.
John P. Getty. The Joys of Collecting (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2011), 33.